In 1947, Pakistan attacked us in Kashmir, took away our land, and we did nothing. In 1962, China attacked us. Nothing. In 1965, Pakistan attacked us again. Nothing. 1993 bomb blasts. Nothing. 1999 Kargil. Nothing. 26/11 Mumbai. Nothing. Parliament attacks. Nothing. Punjab insurgency. Nothing. Kashmir terrorism. Nothing. LoC violations. Nothing. Numerous major and minor terror incidents across India. Nothing. Attacks on military installations. Nothing.
We have become the “nothing” state.
In that warm, viscous fluid deep inside the womb of inaction, we find solace and comfort. It’s the perfect world, shielded from the guttural screams of the dying and the silence of the dead. Peace is a punch line.
Speak about an armed response, and you are labeled a warmonger.
After the battle of Chamkaur Sahib in 1705, Guru Gobind Singh Ji wrote a letter to Emperor Aurangzeb. The letter was called “Zafarnama”. It bears reading for its sheer sophistication and clarity of thought. Such vision and strength of character is impossible to find. Of the 111 Persian verses, the closest to my heart is verse number 22.
Chu kar az hama heelt-e-dar guzasht
Halal ast burden ba shamsheer dast.
All modes of redressing a wrong having failed
Raising of the sword is pious and just.
What is India’s threshold? When will we say, “Thus far, and no further”? How many body bags are too many?
Centuries ago, Guru Gobind Singh Ji gave us a template to follow, and we ignored it. This has been amongst this nation’s greatest misfortunes. Zafarnama is not just a letter written by a warrior-saint to a cruel, megalomaniac emperor. It actually sketches the outline of what must be India’s foreign policy.
A nation state must have the capability and the intent to punish its enemies. We have the capability. Where is the intent? Remember, there is no respect without fear.
The lessons from Russia are instructive, though extreme. It is part truth and part urban legend. They say that a Middle Eastern terrorist group had once kidnapped a Russian official. The Russians found out where the terrorist leader’s family lived. Next day, the terrorist leader received a small box. When he opened the box, he found his fathers severed hand in it. The Russian official was released promptly, simply because the message was clear; if desired action was not taken immediately, more body parts of the old man would follow.
I don’t particularly like the way Russians do business. But then, I don’t like the way Indians do business either. They are too harsh. We are too soft. They are all action. We are all talk.
One day, this national obsession with excessive debate and discussion that we wear like a badge of honour, a nod to our democratic legacy, will sink us. We must realize that consensus and discussion are not an alternative to resolute action. Both are required in equal measure.
As a nation, we must swiftly find a balance between what we are and what we seek to be. If we are a peace-loving nation, following the great traditions of Gandhi and Buddha, let us stop claiming eligibility for a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council. A seat at that table is not for the weak, or the peaceful.
The Big Five of the UNSC are the biggest human rights violators in the history of this planet. From slavery to colonialism, from pogroms of its own people to artificially induced famines, which killed tens of millions, these nations have done it all. You would argue that, that is in the past. You would be right. And wrong.
Since the end of World War II, USA has never been at peace. UK keeps toeing the US line, like an obedient parrot. China is expanding its military footprints globally. Russia is bombing Syria, and setting up ground forces including fast moving armour, to counter NATO in Europe.
Actually, not much has changed…except the methodology. Not for a moment am I saying that we emulate the wrongs of these nations. But let our morality not be an excuse for inaction. That is all I ask.
Soft power is good to have and its effects are far reaching. It can do what hard power cannot. But the inverse is also true. While it is true that Bollywood has taken China by storm, along with Yoga; it is also true that no military commander worth his salt would recommend releasing Dangal at Dokalam, at the height of an Indo-China face-off.
We are a nation that has become too dependent on soft power.
Wars are hell. Wars are avoidable. But if we must go to war, there is no point in being tentative about it. That’s the surest way to lose.
Whether it is terrorism in Kashmir, insurgency in the North East, Naxalism in the Red Corridor or incursions along the Line of Actual Control we have always come across as a nation that is weak and unsure. If we are slapped, we make turning the other cheek a show of great maturity. Its almost like it’s a virtue. “India is an old civilization and can be expected to behave maturely”, says the world. Its actually saying, “The Indians will keep discussing the matter till it fizzles out”.
Take a step back and think about it for a minute. Forget about the legal complications and what the world will say.
Lets say India does the following:
1. Imprisons all Kashmiri separatists in jails outside Kashmir.
2. Incinerates completely a Pakistan Army Brigade Headquarters across the Line of Control.
3. Throws stone pelters in jail for 5 years, all outside Kashmir. All stone pelters interrupting Security Forces operations to be jailed for 15 years. Build new jails, if the need so arises.
4. Declares President’s Rule in J&K.
5. Abrogates Article 370 and 35A.
6. Withdraws its High Commissioner from Pakistan, leaving behind minuscule junior-level staff.
7. Warns Canada and UK that if they actively allow anti-India activities from their soil, they should not expect “business as usual” with India.
8. Carries out selective targeting of “persons of interest” inside Pakistan, and globally. The message should be simple…you cannot target India and hope to live in peace.
9. Gives CRPF “special powers” and a timeline to wipe out Naxalism in the Red Corridor.
10. Withdraws MFN status from Pakistan and bans all trade with that country.
What will happen if we do this? Let me tell you:
1. The world will erupt in an uproar because they are not used to such actions from India. Our ambassadors will be summoned and strong statements given by all. Beyond that, nothing will happen.
2. Pakistan Army will go back to doing what it does best – making cereals and selling fertilizer.
3. China will make a statement, to which we should not respond.
4. Pakistan will say that it is a nuclear weapons state. That statement accounts for nothing. It says that even during a cricket match.
5. Our soldiers will stop dying needlessly.
I am not asking our nation to do anything that is extraordinary by global standards. Pakistan Army attacked us in Kargil in 1999. We were a nuclear weapons state. Did that stop Pakistan? Did the world do anything? The world did nothing because the world ALWAYS does nothing…unless its own interests are at stake.
It is time to take a hard line. I am NOT talking about being militaristic. I do not intend to play the warmonger. But I have said it before and I will say it again. A nation does not live on its knees. Enough is enough.
Because of my views, I have been called a rabid hawk. If peace means allowing our soldiers to die, then that peace is not acceptable to me, because that is peace without honour.
I am not a hawk. I am just a dove with very big claws.
A well known expert on nothing. Opinions totally personal. Trying hard to be humorous Trying to perfect the art of making cappuccino while running a business. Old enough to know better young enough to ignore it. Will endeavor my whole efforts to spread correct Information through my posts.